LIMA — Thursday, Ohio will become the 20th state to enact a Breast Density Law.
Gov. John Kasich signed the bill in December, which will require mammography facilities in Ohio to include a written statement in result letters sent to patients with dense breast tissue. The statement must read:
“Your mammogram demonstrates that you have dense breast tissue, which could hide abnormalities. Dense breast tissue, in and of itself, is a relatively common condition. Therefore, this information is not provided to cause undue concern; rather, it is to raise your awareness and promote discussion with your health care provider regarding the presence of dense breast tissue in addition to other risk factors.”
According to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, breast density refers to the proportion of tissues that make up women’s breasts, which are made of both fat and breast tissue, as well as connective tissue, which helps to keep everything in place.
Density itself doesn’t refer to feel but rather how breasts look in a mammogram, comparing the area of breast and connective tissue to areas of fat. If a woman had more breast and connective tissue than fat tissue, they would have what’s considered dense breast tissue.
The director of St. Rita’s Women’s Wellness Center, Mary Kay Verhoff, said breast and connective tissue is actually more dense than fatty tissues. For this reason, breast and connective tissue shows up white on a mammogram, like a cancer would, making it harder to discern risk from the mammogram alone.
Verhoff said dense breasts are very common, affecting about 50 percent of women. The factor could increase the chances of breast cancer, which is why the center started notifying women two weeks ago and sees the law as a positive change, enabling women to discuss options with providers based on risk factors.
“It’s educating women about their own health,” she said.